I know what you mean, but the terrifying thing is that the first 2 books - IE the first 2000-odd pages - are just the setup for System of the World. I'm about halfway through SotW, and it look like Stephenson's going to pull the whole thing off.
sheeeiitt...read that TWICE back in my school-days...once to read it, the second time to "understand" it better because i had to write a paper on it...i got a high grade on the paper (art of bs), and i have no idea how to this day...whatta book!
My friend Dan gave me From China to Chinatown for Christmas, and I just started it yesterday. I'm about 100 pages into it and so far, so good. It looks at Western reactions to Chinese food from the arrival of the first European traders, diplomats, and missionaries through to the modern ubiquity of pseudo-Chinese takeaways. The writing can be a little dry at times, but the information is fascinating.
white jazz is superb...i remember particulalry from the back blurb 'lawer, bagman, slum landlord, lieutenant dave klein...'etc. or something...loved the combination...and he takes down dudley smith, unlike n the otherwise fairly good film of the previous book...ellroy is the god of quickfire prose...i love the way ellroy writes & the way he stripped it down more for american tabloid & then further & perhaps even too far for the cold six thousand...my dark places (& i suppose the black dahlia) marks him out as pretty dark...he lived on a golf course for a while eating the chemicals from his asthma inhaler & sniffng womens pants that he'd nicked...
just read the algebraist by ian m. banks...rather enjoyed it...also tortured myself with the third - no almost too embarassed to have read one book by such a bad writer, but three?!? - dan brown book i have read...he writes awful cliche-stuffed tripe...shameful i know...will have to find something new now
i was obsessed with james ellroy for a long while- i met him at a book signing when white jazz came out- got all my old books inscribed - "stab wounds multiply" and "fear this book" are some of the things he wrote. he's a really great guy in person... he would yell "get your high-powered american crime fiction signed by a master right here folks"- as people walked through the bookstore
currently i'm reading dashiell hammett's "continental op"- a collection of short stories. i only recently started reading hammett- "the glass key" and "the thin man" are excellent. these stories are good but i think i prefer the novels- he gets to stretch out a bit.
hammett (for the time, especially) is quite grim and cynical- love the moral ambiguity
read the maltese falcon a few weeks ago...excellent stuff...there's a new imprint by someone of top crime novels...in the same series is the hollow man by john dickson carr...classic locked-room novel...touch of the macabre...i'd recommend it
just finished reading paul morley's words and music , which was very enjoyable. Currently reading a book about neuroscience and the brain which is also very enjoyable.
Just ordered that book on al quaida by jason burke which people have recommended, anyone read it?
i seem to be getting thru 2-3 books a week at the moment which is unheard of for ages, really good.
H.P. Lovecraft - At the Mountains of Madness: first thing I've read by him, some hilarious sentences like:
"All this flashed in unison through the thoughts of Danforth and me as we looked from those headless slime-coated shapes to the loathsome palimpsest sculptures and the diaboloical dot-groups of fresh slime on the walls beside them - looked and and understood what must have triumphed and survived down there in the Cyclopean water city of that penguin-fringed abyss..."